Study Says Trucker Health Affects Accident Risk

Study Says Trucker Health Affects Accident Risk

When a person drives a semi-truck for a living, their “office” is their vehicle. For truckers, staying safe at work means being alert and competent behind the wheel, which often means staying as fit and healthy as possible.

By contrast, an unhealthy driver is more susceptible to serious medical emergencies on the road, which can put the motorists around them at risk.

But just how dangerous is it for a trucker to have a health problem? According to a study from the University of Utah School of Medicine, it can be quite dangerous for an unhealthy driver to get on the road. Researchers have found that truckers who have health conditions can have four times the risk of being involved in a trucking accident.  

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Texas, you should contact a personal injury lawyer like Attorney Zach Herbert of Herbert & Eberstein in Richardson, who has experience handling truck wreck cases. 

Link Between Trucker Health and Truck Crashes

The study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, looked at the medical records of nearly 50,000 truck drivers involved in accidents between 2005 and 2012.

Researchers found that 34 percent of drivers showed signs of at least one major health condition, including diabetes, low back pain, and heart disease. All three of these conditions have been linked to lower performance while driving.

When researchers examined the motor vehicle accident history of drivers with health problems, they found those truck drivers who had a minimum of three identified health conditions had the highest accident rates.

Among all truckers, 82 drivers were put into a high-risk group based on calculations that assessed their daily crash risk. Researchers found that truckers in this category also had the highest rates of preventable accidents as well as accidents that resulted in injuries.

According to one of the study’s authors, “What these data are telling us is that with decreasing health comes increased crash risk, including crashes that truck drivers could prevent.”

The crash statistics showed that the frequency of accidents involving an injury was 29 accidents per 100 million miles for all drivers. However, among those in the high-risk group, the rate skyrocketed to 93 accidents per 100 million miles. The rate stayed the same even after researchers factored in things like the trucker’s driving experience and the number of years on the road.

Researchers also found that certain conditions by themselves didn’t impact a driver’s crash rate, but combinations of health conditions did. For example, a trucker could probably manage diabetes, but a trucker who suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure was less likely to successfully manage their condition.  

The study’s lead author stated, “Right now, conditions are thought of in isolation. There’s no guidance for looking at multiple conditions in concert.” According to experts, looking at truckers’ health conditions as a whole could improve safety on the road for both truck drivers and other motorists.

Trucker Mental Health

One area of overall health among truckers that is often neglected is mental health. According to one statistic, about one-third of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States will experience at least one major motor vehicle accident in their career.

Even if the trucker isn’t directly involved in the crash, being on the road all the time means truckers are more likely to see a crash as it happens or shortly afterward. Like first responders such as police officers and paramedics, truckers may be among the first individuals to arrive on the scene of an accident.

This exposure to serious accidents, including fatal crashes, can leave many truckers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to industry experts, many truckers have difficulty getting access to appropriate mental health services, which can exacerbate the problem. Because truckers typically work long hours away from home, it can be tough, if not impossible, for them to make appointments with mental health counselors.

Additionally, about 94 percent of truck drivers are men, and men tend to seek out mental health services at lower rates compared to women.

Experts say that truckers are also more likely to come from a lower economic background, and studies show that people with lower incomes are less likely to obtain mental health services than people from the middle and upper classes.

Mental health problems in truck drivers can get worse if the trucker is fatigued. Because many truckers work long hours with minimal breaks, their stress levels may be higher than the average person.

When you compound this with PTSD, the result can be a higher risk of being involved in a serious accident.

Speak to a Truck Accident Lawyer About Your Case

If you were injured by a semi-truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. It’s important to work with an experienced Dallas truck accident lawyer about your case. Call Herbert & Eberstein, a personal injury law firm in Dallas, TX and let them explain your options and help you make informed decisions.  

 

Media Contact:

Attorney Zach Herbert

Phone: 214-414-3808

https://zachherbert.attorney/

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170117083849.htm
  2. https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2017/01/17/439005.htm
  3. https://journals.lww.com/joem/Citation/2017/02000/Multiple_Conditions_Increase_Preventable_Crash.11.aspx
  4. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/03/long-haul-trucking-and-mental-health/474840/

Highway Hypnosis Can Cause Truck Accidents

Highway Hypnosis Can Cause Truck Accidents

Most people think of hypnosis as something that happens on a stage and involves a magician swinging a pocket watch back and forth in front of another person’s face. However, there is another type of hypnosis that probably just about everyone has experienced.

Highway hypnosis occurs when a motorist zones out behind the wheel. Highway hypnosis is also sometimes referred to as “white line fever” after the white painted lines on the road. When a person drives for long distances on the highway with little or no stopping or stimulation, they can lapse into a relaxed state that is similar to sleeping.

Although anyone can experience highway hypnosis, it’s more common among truck drivers, who spend hours at a time behind the wheel and often drive long routes with repetitive scenery. If you’ve been injured in a truck wreck in Texas, the best thing you can do is speak with a Dallas personal injury lawyer like Attorney Zach Herbert of Herbert & Eberstein, as soon as possible.

How Does Highway Hypnosis Happen?

According to experts, anyone can fall into something of a hypnotized state when they are very relaxed. For example, a train engineer reported feeling like he was in a daze prior to a fatal train derailment in New York City.

Sean Meehan, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Michigan, stated. “When we’re tired, effectively there’s a change in the state of our brain that results in that information just not getting to those centers where we actively, consciously process it.”

This change in state is why some people can even become hypnotized while reading. If you have ever read the same paragraph over and over again because you’re simply not absorbing the text, it’s possible you were experiencing a mild form of hypnotism.

When people experience highway hypnosis, however, they don’t have the benefit of just snapping out of it and safely rereading a page they overlooked. When you’re behind the wheel, highway hypnosis can lead to a serious car accident. A driver who is zoned out has a slower reaction time, and they may not even realize they’re in danger until the accident is in progress.

Highway hypnosis falls under the general umbrella of “drowsy driving.” According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are over 100,000 drowsy driving car accidents every year, with over 1,500 of those accidents causing a fatality.

Tips for Avoiding Highway Hypnosis

Truck drivers operate huge vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. With a vehicle this massive, it’s incredibly important for truckers to stay alert behind the wheel.

Highway hypnosis can cause a truck driver to space out and cause a catastrophic accident, which is why it’s important for semi-truck drivers to do everything they can to avoid driving drowsy. These tips are also useful for any motorist who drives long distances or boring routes that can lead to highway hypnosis.

Keep Temperatures Cool

Many people get sleepy when they’re warm, and there are a couple of different reasons for this. When you’re too warm, you can actually become dehydrated, which can make you feel tired. This reason is why it’s important for truckers to drink plenty of water.

Being warm also causes your blood pressure to drop, which makes you feel groggy. Warm temperatures also coax many people into feeling cozy and comforted, which is great if you’re trying to sleep but a serious safety hazard when you’re driving a semi-truck.

Take Frequent Breaks

Truck drivers are required to take certain breaks under federal law. However, they should also change up their routine by making stops for quick rest breaks as they drive.

Even if it’s just a few minutes of brisk walking or some light stretching, getting out of the truck and getting your blood flowing can help reduce the drowsiness that comes with driving for too many hours in a row on the highway.

Listen to Music or Talk Radio

Many truckers enjoy listening to music or the radio as they drive. With satellite radio, there are more options than ever for listening to interesting programs and talk radio. You can even download audio books or podcast so you can listen to something interesting or entertaining as you drive.

In some cases, however, music can lull you into drowsiness. If you find this happening, it’s a good idea to switch up your favorite station and try listening to something new or outside your regular interests. This shift can help keep your mind engaged, which will increase blood flow to the brain and stop you from feeling tired.

Avoid Heavy Meals Before Driving

There’s a good reason why many people feel so tired after Thanksgiving and similar gatherings. The body must work overtime to digest a large meal, which can make people feel sleepy.

To stop drowsiness behind the wheel, truckers should avoid heavy, carb-based meals like pasta before they get on the road. Instead, opt for healthier options like salads and fresh fruit. It’s not always easy to find fresh food choices on the road, which is why many truckers pack a cooler with fruit, salad, and healthy menu items before they leave home.

Help for Those Injured in Truck Accidents

If you have been injured in a truck accident, it’s in your best interest to discuss your case with an experienced Dallas truck wreck lawyer.  Call the personal injury law firm of Herbert & Eberstein in Richardson, TX today, and schedule a time to review your case with our compassionate team.

 

Media Contact:

Attorney Zach Herbert

(T): 214-414-3808

zachherbert.attorney

 

Sources:

  1. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/highway-hypnosis/story?id=21098081
  2. https://www.sleepadvisor.org/why-heat-makes-you-sleepy/

Winter Can Mean More Truck Accidents

Winter Can Mean More Truck Accidents

The winter months often mean more dangerous roads for everyone. If you drive on the highway, you might encounter a lot of semi-trucks. Even in parts of the country that don’t ordinarily see heavy snowfall, the roads can get icy and slick.

Worse, drivers in warmer climates aren’t always accustomed to driving in winter weather, and this can lead them to underestimate just how dangerous the roads can be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers some guidelines for staying as safe as possible on the highway through the winter months. If you have been involved in any type of car wreck or truck accident in Texas,  it’s in your best interest to speak with a Dallas truck accident lawyer to protect your rights and review all of your legal options. 

Prepare Your Car for Winter

Even if you don’t live in an area that requires snow tires, it’s still important to get your car thoroughly checked out before the cooler weather hits. Take your vehicle to a mechanic and have them look it over, checking for fluids that need to be topped off, as well as tires that might need to be replaced. It’s also a good idea to get an oil change before bad weather sets in.

Your mechanic can also check to make sure all of your exterior lights are working and can replace any lights that have burned out. Ask your mechanic to check for leaks in your car’s cooling system, and make sure your vehicle has enough coolant before you drive. You should also ensure that you have enough windshield washer fluid in your car’s reservoir, as this can help you clear ice and snow from your windshield.  

Check for Recalls

Many people are unaware that cars are frequently subject to recalls. Auto manufacturers have an obligation to notify car owners when a part is defective or something needs to be serviced or replaced on a vehicle.

If you bought your car used, or you moved since you purchased your vehicle, you might not receive notification of recalls in the mail. This possibility is why it’s important to check the NHTSA website on a regular basis. You can find recall information for your specific vehicle. If your car has been recalled, the manufacturer must repair it at no cost to you.

Be Familiar with Your Vehicle

Are you driving a new car? Or is this winter the first time you’ve handled your car in the snow and ice? Maybe you moved, and you’re not used to driving in hazardous winter conditions.

Now is the time to familiarize yourself with your vehicle. Some experts suggest taking your car for a drive on back roads or a residential neighborhood with slower speed limits. If you do this when the first snow starts falling, you can learn how your car handles in the ice and snow without worrying about being on the highway or traveling at high speeds.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

You never know when you’ll need to stay in your vehicle until help arrives. This is why it’s important to stock your car with enough supplies and emergency equipment to keep you safe. The NHTSA suggests creating an emergency supply kit that contains a snow shovel, broom or ice scraper. You should also have some kind of abrasive material, such as cat litter, on hand in the event your car gets stuck in the snow and you need to create some friction for your tires.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep jumper cables, flares and a flashlight in your emergency kit. You should also include blankets and water, along with some snacks. Finally, make sure you have a cell phone charger and any medication you need to take on a regular basis.

If you get stuck on the side of the road in an emergency situation, the NHTSA says it’s important to stay with your vehicle and to avoid overexerting yourself. Instead of leaving your car, put flares or markers around it so other vehicles can see you. Doing this will also help the police or emergency workers find your vehicle.

It’s also important to avoid running your car for extended periods of time, as this can increase the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, run your car sporadically if you need to keep warm, and crack your window to make sure you get enough fresh air.

Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

It’s also a good idea to know your route before you leave the house. You should never attempt to plan your route with a GPS as you drive, as this can lead to distractions that increase your risk of being involved in a car accident. Leave with enough time to reach your destination without rushing in winter weather. It’s better to be late than to be involved in a car accident.

The NHTSA also recommends letting other people know when you plan to arrive. This way they know you’re en route and can check in with you if they don’t hear from you at the time you’re supposed to reach your destination.   

If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident, call Attorney Zach Herbert at Herbert & Eberstein today.

 

Media Contact:

Attorney Zach Herbert

T: (214) 414-3808

https://zachherbert.attorney/

Follow Herbert & Eberstein on Facebook

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips
  2. https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

Why Are Truck Accidents on the Rise?

Why Are Truck Accidents on the Rise?

Despite many advances in safety equipment, research shows that truck accidents continue to go up. This is an important subject for everyone on the road, as truck accidents tend to result in more serious injuries than a regular car accident.

Technological advances can only do so much, which is why experts have started looking for reasons behind the high rate of truck accidents, as well as possible ways to reduce the number of tractor-trailer crashes on highways.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, you have important legal rights. Because truck accidents involve many complex legal issues, it’s important for you to discuss all of your options with an experienced truck wreck lawyer.

Studies Show Truck Accidents Have Increased

While car accident rates have gone down over the years, the number of truck accidents has climbed steadily upward. According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were more than 3,800 truck-related fatalities in 2015, which is a 22 percent increase since 2009.

Why Truck Accidents Happen

Although truck accidents can happen for a number of different reasons, the experts who research truck safety are always looking for reasons why the rate of accidents has gone up. Research has shown that truck accidents occur due to a number of driver behaviors and, in some cases, certain types of technology.

Driver Distractions

Just like any other motorist, truck drivers can be distracted by phones, the radio, or even navigation systems. Any time a driver’s eyes or attention is off the road, there’s a potential for a serious accident to occur.

According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash doubles after taking their eyes off the road for two seconds.

Under federal law, truck drivers are only permitted to use hands-free devices behind the wheel. However, studies show that even hands-free technology can be distracting for a driver, as it takes a driver’s focus off the task of driving.

The reality is that most people can’t multitask. Instead of performing two tasks at once, the brain rapidly switches between the two tasks, and never fully concentrates on one or the other.  

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truckers often work long hours, with little opportunity to get the rest they need. Although federal law limits how long a trucker can drive without mandatory rest periods, the reality is that many trucking companies push their drivers to bend or break the rules.

In trucking, time is money, and delays can result in serious financial consequences. Unfortunately, some trucking companies put the burden on their drivers, which can lead to catastrophic truck accidents

Unfamiliar Routes

Many truckers follow the same route week after week. However, construction, traffic, and detours can sometimes force a truck driver to travel an unfamiliar route. As anyone who has ever driven in an unfamiliar city knows, finding your way around a new area can make you distracted behind the wheel and also lead to accidents.

Equipment Malfunctions

Semi-trucks have a lot of systems and moving parts. Additionally, it’s extremely important for truck drivers to ensure that the loads they’re carrying inside the truck’s trailer are properly balanced. An unbalanced load or a sudden mechanical problem can cause a trucker to lose control. In some cases, a shifting load can even cause a truck to jackknife, putting other motorists in danger.

Impatient Drivers

Many motorists don’t like to drive near semi-trucks, and they might make dangerous maneuvers to get around one. These dangerous maneuvers can put the trucker and the motorist in danger, as trucks have blind spots on all four sides of the truck. When a motorist weaves in and out of traffic or cuts off a truck by merging in front of one, they can cause a serious accident.

Motorists can reduce their risk of being involved in a truck accident by maintaining plenty of space between their vehicle and the semi-truck. It’s also best to avoid driving right next to a truck for an extended period of time, as truckers usually can’t see a car that is driving right next to the truck’s trailer.

Unqualified Truck Drivers

To obtain a commercial driver’s license, an individual must past specific tests. However, it’s up to trucking carriers and trucking schools to ensure the coursework and testing procedures satisfy federal and state requirements. Without a great deal of oversight, there are cases in which an unqualified driver is permitted to get behind the wheel of a semi-truck. There have been many cases in which a trucker’s license was only revoked after the trucker caused a serious accident.  

Working with a Dallas Truck Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, it’s important to speak with a Dallas truck accident lawyer. These types of cases are usually more complicated than a regular car accident case. An experienced truck accident lawyer will explain your options and help you make informed decisions about your case.     

 

Media Contact:

Dallas Truck Accident Attorney Zachary Herbert

T: (214) 414-3808

Sources:

  1. https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks
  2. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license
  3. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/distracted-driving/mobile-phone-restrictions-fact-sheet